Thursday, March 31, 2011

Baby Whisperer Personality Types: Angel Baby

My angel baby
I find one of the most interesting things in the Baby Whisperer books is her personality typing. I wanted to talk about each one individually. In The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems, Hogg talks about Angel babies in general on page 58.

In Baby Whisperer: Know Your Baby I talk about personalities. Because Brayden was a non-Babywise baby for his first 9 weeks, I can think of his babyhood pre-babywise and post-babywise. His personality definitely changed when we started Babywise. Hogg has a quiz in Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, and here are his numbers:

Pre-Babywise
  • Angel baby: 1
  • Textbook baby: 4
  • Touchy Baby: 7
  • Spirited Baby: 4
  • Grumpy Baby: 3
Post Babywise
  • Angel baby: 8
  • Textbook baby: 12
  • Touchy Baby: 0
  • Spirited Baby: 0
  • Grumpy Baby: 0

Quite the difference, right? We will talk more about him later--he is obviously not the angel baby.

Since we are talking angel babies, let me show you Kaitlyn's numbers--she is my angel baby:

  • Angel baby: 17
  • Textbook baby: 3
  • Touchy Baby: 0
  • Spirited Baby: 0
  • Grumpy Baby: 0

Angel babies are called "angel" because they are just that--angels. As good as gold. Easy as can be. Kaitlyn was/is an "angel" personality type and would have been with or without Babywise. Even with reflux, she was undeniably and angel.

Eating
Generally good eaters as babies and open to trying something new.

Kaitlyn was an amazing eater as a baby. She was my fastest nurser. She liked everything she ate as a baby, though she did not love mushy baby food. She preferred real texture.

Kaitlyn does have some "pickiness" with food. She does not like food that is acidic at all. She never had acidic food as a baby for the obvious "don't feed babies acidic food" reasons. She doesn't like spaghetti sauce. She doesn't like ketchup. She doesn't like pineapple or oranges. She doesn't like orange juice. I think that all stems back to reflux. Those foods give her heartburn.

Activities
Moderately active. They play independently from babyhood on. High tolerance for change and easily portable. Very social, like to interact, and are good at sharing.

Kaitlyn was always content to sit and play--she still is. She doesn't need to be running around to be happy. She has always been an amazing independent player. She was as a baby and still is to this day. Independent play has never been an issue. 

She has always handled disruptions well. Angel babies are great as a non-first born because you can mess with their schedule for activities and they don't melt down. 

Kaitlyn is the queen of social. Everyone loves Kaitlyn. She is sweet and makes friends everywhere she goes--seriously. She has an incredible understanding of social graces and I kid you not, she is a far better hostess than I am. 

Kaitlyn is great at sharing. She has her moments of possessiveness, but overall, she is very willing and happy to share with others.

Sleep
Goes down easily and independently. Good sleeper.

Kaitlyn is a great, great sleeper. Do you know that since she started sleeping through the night, we have only been woken by her in the night one time? One time--and that was last month...she had a bad dream I think. Nothing interrupts her sleep. I have been woken more times than that by Brayden, and I have been woken more times than that by McKenna. The sleep of an angel baby is incredible.

Mood
Usually easy going and upbeat. Steady and predictable. 

This is also true for Kaitlyn, though a three year old girl definitely has her extreme emotional states! That is where the "usually" comes in. As a baby, though, she was always happy.

Described
Good as gold--I could have five like him--We were really lucky--It was like there wasn't even a baby in the house...

Yes--very true.

Conclusion
I think every parent deserves an angel baby--it is a lovely experience. They are very easy in general. If your baby is not an angel baby, however, don't despair. As you saw in my numbers with Brayden, you can have angel baby characteristics even with one of the more difficult personality types as a result of your nurturing. 

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How to Go Back to Being a Stay at Home Spouse

This is a guest post.

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Over the last few decades, many families have gone from being a one-income to a two-income
household. Back in 1977, about 66 percent of homes had both couples working, compared to 79
percent today.

Statistics aside, after awhile, you might start to think it is time to stay at home again with the kids, or
perhaps you want to go back to school. Is it feasible to go back to one bread winner?

With some good planning and brainstorming, it is very possible to survive on one income. First,
have a heart-to-heart with your spouse, and explain why it is important to you to step away from
your job. Financial decisions should always involve both spouses, so it does not lead to domination of
finances by one person.

Next, work on a budget; not a fun task, but a must if your income is going to be cut in half. You know
you have to pay for your home and groceries, but what can you live without. Is cable television
necessary, or having a home phone and cell phones? Review your expenses and get rid of those
deemed unnecessary.

If you have quite a few larger expenses you may feel it won't be easy to cut back, but think outside
the box. If one person will no longer be driving to work, sell that extra vehicle. Have a hefty
mortgage? Perhaps you could rent a room out to a college student. If you have any credit card debt,
be sure to pare that down also.

Be practical. If you live in the country, selling one car could save you money but cause problems
transporting the kids and doing the household tasks. Perhaps unloading a car with a payment in favor
of a less expensive second car might be a better option for you.

You may have to look at your social life, and back off a bit. Cut back on those dinners out, movies, and
sporting events. You can always cook an exotic meal at home, or rent a movie.

Most importantly, practice living on one income before you take the leap. Basically live as though you
are not making that second income. Put it into a saving account, do not use it for any expenses, and
see how you fare after a month or two.

If you are ready to quit that job and make it on one income, do your research and be sure all of your
necessary bills will be covered. If you’re cutting back, be patient with your family while they adjust
to the changes. In the end, it may be easier than you think to live on less.

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Just a little anecdote from me. When Brayden was born, we made very little money. Very little. I was not working, my husband was going to school full time and working a part time job at a whopping $10 an hour (which we thought was a whole lot of money--and it was for a part-time job). We couldn't afford much, but this I do know. We were no less happy than we are now. We can buy a lot more now, but I believe the saying that money doesn't buy happiness.

The other day my sister commented that money doesn't buy you happiness, but debt can sure make you miserable! I believe that, too. Do what you can to cut your debt--live responsibly. This article has some good tips for you to be able to cut back on your spending and save some money!

Emergency Preparedness--Time to Review!

"They" say it is a good idea to review your emergency preparedness stuff twice a year. I have decided to do it in October and April, and thought I would remind you all when I do so you can do it then too if you so desire.

Now is the time to assess what you have. Now is the time to make goals for the next six months. What would you like to add? Now is the time to look through things like a 72 hour kit and update items (like clothes sizes and perhaps the type of clothes. Change to cooler clothes now, warmer clothes in October--assuming you are in the Norther Hemisphere). 

If you are having a hard time deciding how to track your emergency items, I have been working on a plan and will share that with you later this month!

Poll Results: What age range is hardest for you?


Newborn
  246 (48%)
 
Baby 4-6 months
  30 (5%)
 
Baby 7-9 months
  17 (3%)
 
Baby 10-12 months
  10 (1%)
 
Pre-Toddler (12-18 months)
  30 (5%)
 
Toddler 18-24 months
  26 (5%)
 
2 year old
  39 (7%)
 
3 year old
  18 (3%)
 
4 year old
  5 (0%)
5 year old or older
  3 (0%)
Don't know yet!
  85 (16%


Total of 509 votes

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Reminder: You can leave comments on poll results posts if you would like to add to the poll after it has closed. This would be helpful for those who have more than one child, those whose children have reached certain ages after a poll closed, and those who didn't visit the blog while that poll was open. To find closed polls, click on the poll results link above

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

McKenna Toddler Summary: 2 Years Old!


You read it right. McKenna is now two. Wow. A word that really describes McKenna is "fun." She loves to have fun, she is fun, she is always having fun, and people around her have fun. She makes people laugh and smile constantly. Sometimes her drive for fun leads her to do mischief, but she is relatively easily brought back to the right track.

Eating
McKenna is still eating well. I can tell she is getting more skeptical about things, though. Rather than grabbing anything put before her and scarfing it down, she might turn her head a bit and give it a sideways glance while she thinks it over. She does end up eating everything put before her; she just thinks about the new or unfamiliar stuff, which I think is a good thing.

Booster
Last month, we moved to a booster seat. She is doing well with it, though she has introduced issues I have never faced before. She likes to squirm around and try to stand up sometimes. I have never had a child do that. Buckles work, as does taking the child right out and ending meal time, which for a child like McKenna (one who loves to eat) is enough to cure her of the desire to push the envelope on this topic. [Added--I want to make clear I am talking about a booster seat at the dinner table, not in the car]

Playing
Independent play and sibling play are both great. McKenna absolutely loves to be outside, so we are both looking forward to perfect weather so we can spend a lot of time outside. She is the type (as I think most children are--but not all) to just stay out no matter how cold she is, so I have to monitor her and not just wait for her to decide she is cold enough.

On a playing-related topic, McKenna had a couple of weeks where she was an absolute tornado. Absolute. She was a masterful mess maker. She likes to clean, so she would help clean-up, but I have never had a child make a bigger mess on their own! She was going through cupboards and drawers and closets...she could empty something in 60 seconds easily! She happily snapped out of the tornado thing. Now we just have normal sized messes.

Night Sleep
The time change was this month, and night sleep stayed great.

Naps
Naps, on the other hand, did not. I don't want to complain because she is still napping 2.5 hours. However, she was napping 3.5-4 hours until the time change.

Not only that, she was waking up crying. I watched her on the video monitor and she was literally waking up crying.

She had no sickness and no teeth that I could see. She could have been having bad dreams. 

My conclusion, though, was that she was just off because of the time change and not sleeping well. I gave it time, and as of right now, naps are still "short," but she is not waking up crying. That is good. 

I also taught her that instead of crying, she needed to say "Mommy! Up please!" After only explaining it once, she started doing it! I was very shocked. 


Doctor
McKenna had her 2 year well-visit with the doctor and all is well. She is in the high 50s for her size, so just above average. The doctor is surprised at how much she talks (but honestly with the amount of talking my three year old does, it seems like nothing--just wait till I have two fluid female talkers competing to talk to me!).

Learning
Learning continues to explode. She is suddenly able to identify most colors and can now count to 7 consistently, sometimes beyond. These little toddlers are amazing! This is one reason I just love the toddler age. 

Birthday Party
McKenna had her birthday party. She loved every last second of the attention and fun. 

Our Schedule
8:15--breakfast
9:00--bath/get ready
10:00--sibling playtime with Kaitlyn
10:30--independent playtime11:30--learning time. Sometimes lunch is later and she watches Elmo here.
12:00--lunch. Then play with Brayden and Kaitlyn
1:30--nap
4:00/4:30: get up
5:00--Dinner. Free play and family time
8:00--in bed by this time. Sometimes sooner.

Times are approximate

Monday, March 28, 2011

5 Stages of Solid Foods


On Becoming Babywise book two has a great guide to the five food stages for babies on page 25. I think you will find this very interesting and will help answer a lot of questions I see moms have. Do note, as the book points out, these are not absolute rules for feeding. I know some of my kid did some things differently, but in general, this is quite accurate for most kids.

Stage One: 4-6 months old (if you decide to feed before 6 months)
This is a single grain cereal stage and only single ingredient baby foods. Even if you start solids right at four months and take introducing things on a faster track by doing veggies first followed by fruits, you won't have introduced all of the basic foods before 6 months anyway.

Stage Two: 6-7 months old
Single ingredient foods. You can mix single ingredients that your baby has been introduced to. For example, if your baby has been introduced to cereal and prunes, you can mix them together for pruney cereal (yum!).

Stage Three: 8-12 months old
Foods become more textured, meaning the foods are not so watered down. Children also eat more at one sitting in this age group than previously.

Stage Four: 12-15 months old
Your now pre-toddler will be eating meals with the family and will also have some baby food added to the meal.

Stage Five: 15 months and up
Your pre-toddler now eats with the family and needs no additional supplementation. 

This is a great list for reference. Many times, parents wonder when to start feeding baby what the family is eating and when to stop feeding baby food. This is a great guide. Don't think you can't ever give a 16 month old baby food--again, don't take this list legalistic. Take it as a good guide, then follow baby's lead from there.

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lola Decor Winner...

The winner of the $30 gift certificate to Lola Decor is...

Eric and Darcy


Please email me at valplowman@gmail.com and I will give you the info you need. You have one week or a new winner will be chosen. Congrats! You will love it!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Teaching Handwriting

Here is the latest post from Susanne! This is on her favorite handwriting method. There are lots of methods out there to choose among. This is Sue's favorite from her experience. 

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A few Babywise Moms had a handwriting discussion a little while back. We were debating over which handwriting method was the best to teach our children. I have decided to teach my kids using the D'Nealian handwriting method. I use to teach K-8th grade and I saw great results with this handwriting program. I know there was some discussion if it was easy for young children to print these letters since they are not all horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines. I agree that it might be difficult for an older toddler and young preschooler to make these letters at first. That is why I have decided to break down handwriting into some manageable steps that I believe are developmentally appropriate. 

I found a pretty good webpage that shows how d'nealian handwriting (print) allows students to do one stroke for most lower case letters. 
http://www.dnealian.com/compare.html

I also feel like the transition from print to cursive is easier with d'nealian.
http://www.dnealian.com/lessons.html

Here is my plan of action:
1. Age 1.5-2.5: Teach letter recognition only. At this young age, fine motor skills are still developing and it is best to have your child learn letter recogonition by sight. This will prepare them to begin writing the letters at a later age. At least your child will have familiarity with the letters and their sounds prior to writing. Instead of teaching letter formation through writing, it is best to teach how to make a horizontal, vertical, diagonal, and curved lines. 

2. Age 2.5-3: 
Teach how to write these letters large in sand, shaving cream, and other sensory mediums using his finger. I believe that pencil grip is a fine motor skill that is out of his developmental ability at this age. That is why I feel teaching how to form the letters with a child's finger is more developmentally appropriate. Your child will learn the sensory movement for the letter, which will make it easier for him to write the letters with a writing utensil when he gets older. 

3. Age 3.5-4:
 Teach your child how to write these letters large using chunky writing mediums such as side walk chalk, thick crayon, thick markers, etc. I feel like at this age, your child should be able to grasp a thicker, chunkier writing utensil. It is still important to keep the letters larger than normal in order to help him solidify the correct formation and movement of the letter into his long term memory. Plus at this age, it will be easier for your child to make large gross motor movements than fine motor movements required for normal handwriting. 

4. Age 4-5:
 Teach your child how to write these letters using correct pencil grip on paper using a pencil and pencil grip (grotto grip). Start off having your child write the letters large. Then move to having your child write them normal size. Traditional handwriting skills are usually taught at this age, which is why I am plan on teaching Cooper correct pencil grip at this age. Developmentally, your child should be able to do much better with fine motor skills required in normal handwriting. 

NOTE: 
Teach your child how to print the lower case letters first. Once your child has mastered how to print the lower case letters at age 4-5, then teach the upper case letters. The reason for this is because we use lower case letters far more often then upper case letters. Children get into a bad habit of printing in upper case letters because that is what they have been taught at first.

This method of teaching handwriting, I feel, lines up with the VAKT method of teaching. Please see my post about this method for more information. http://www.babywisemom.com/2011/02/vakt-multisensory-method-for-teaching.html

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Head Concerns

Baby Body Signs: The Head-to-Toe Guide to Your Child's Health, from Birth Through the Toddler Years

A while ago, I told you about a very informative book I was sent to review called Baby Body Signs. This book has great information on what to worry about, what not to worry about, and when to call a doctor.

So let's talk head.

Soft Spot
"Your baby's soft spot should feel firm and very slightly curved inward" (page 15). Baby has 6 soft spots, though usually only two are noticed.

A baby's soft spot might bulge when baby is crying or otherwise upset, and sometimes when lying down, but if baby is picked up and calm, there should be now bulge. If your baby's soft spot always bulges, call your doctor for a consultation and check-up. 

There is also a possibility of the soft spot being sunken in. Sometimes this is normal, but it can also be a sign of dehydration, so if your baby is not having correct diaper output, has sunken eyes, and/or is lethargic, take baby to doctor, and if it is after hours, you will need to go to the ER. 

If there is an extra soft spot (more than two noticeable), it can be a sign of something wrong with the brain. Some things are treatable while others are not.

You don't want baby's soft spots to be too large, but you also don't want them to be too small. The good news is that doctors check this routinely at your well-baby visits, so make sure you go to those so the doctor can monitor these things.

Head Shape
In the past, some cultures used measures to shape the heads of the infants to signify social status. This happened in places like Iraq, France and other parts of Europe, and is believed to have happened in Egypt. It still happens in some cultures in South America.

Head shape can vary based on how baby sat in the uterus, how baby was delivered (and the size of mom/baby ration during vaginal delivery), how baby sleeps (back, side, tummy), and how baby spends most of his time. This is one reason tummy time is very important, as is varying playing locations for baby. If you bottle feed baby, alternate which arm holds baby to vary the pressure on the head. You might also vary which way you lay baby in the crib (meaning which end the head is on).

If you notice your baby has a mis-shapen head, be sure to point it out to your baby's doctor. Some mis-shapen heads are signs of a bigger problem, and some need some form of correction or intervention. However, if your baby's doctor recommends head surgery, be sure to get a second opinion. The AAP says there are a number of unnecessary surgeries since a head shape from sleeping on the back is similar to a more serious condition that needs surgery. 

Head Size
My kids all have big heads, so I am very used to my doctor watching their head sizes very closely. A large head is usually nothing to worry about, but it can be a sign of too much fluid on the brain.

A head that is too small can be due to the soft spots fusing prematurely or the brain not growing properly.

In the end, the actual size is not as important as the rate of growth. Baby's head should be measured at each well-baby check-up. 

Head Banging
Some children bang their heads for a number of reasons. Some do it to help fall asleep. Some do it during tantrums. Some do it because they are overstimulated, some because they are understimulated. 

Some children bang their heads when they have Autism or Asperger's Syndrome. 

For most children, head banging should not last more than 15 minutes. If your child is doing this out of anger, your child might accidentally hurt himself. 

Conclusion
Pay attention to your child's head and bring any concerns to the attention of your doctor. Watch for sudden changes, and look at pictures to spot changes that have happened more slowly. I also have to say I really enjoy this book. It is a great source of information and most often relief for a parent who is wondering if something is normal or not.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Loving Others

"If you judge people, you have no time to love them." -Mother Teresa

One of the most effective ways, if not the most effective way, to teach our children moral character traits is to be an example of them ourselves. Most important is to not be hypocritical about things we are trying to teach our children. Teaching a child one thing while doing another will really be detrimental to that child in not only that character trait, but other traits you try to instill also.

For that reason, I wanted to talk about us loving others--us as parents. What do we do to show our love to those around us? And what do we do to feel love to others?

I love that first quote I shared. Do not judge others--when you do, it gets in the way of you being able to love them.

It is really hard to know the intent of other people. We can try to think of what we would mean if we behaved that way, but that still is not an accurate assessment of the other person's intentions. It is wise to assume the best--most people really do mean the best. President Thomas S. Monson said, "There is really no way we can know the heart, the intentions, or the circumstances of someone who might do or say something we find reason to criticize. Thus the commandment "Judge not." "

I love this story. It really illustrates a great point on not judging others:

A young couple, Lisa and John, moved into a new neighborhood. One morning while they were eating breakfast, Lisa looked out the window and watched her next-door neighbor hanging out her wash.
“That laundry’s not clean!” Lisa exclaimed. “Our neighbor doesn’t know how to get clothes clean!”
John looked on but remained silent.
Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, Lisa would make the same comments.
A few weeks later Lisa was surprised to glance out her window and see a nice, clean wash hanging in her neighbor’s yard. She said to her husband, “Look, John—she’s finally learned how to wash correctly! I wonder how she did it.”
John replied, “Well, dear, I have the answer for you. You’ll be interested to know that I got up early this morning and washed our windows!”

A great way to show love is through service. Do not revel in the problems of others. Horace Mann once said, "To pity distress is but human; to relieve it is godlike."

Show your love for other people by not judging, being kind, and helping them in times of need. Work on these things and your children will recognize that you have a real love for other people, and will become people who also love other people. And a person who really loves others is a person we all need in this world.

Thoughts for this article inspired by the talk Charity Never Faileth by Thomas S. Monson.

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